Last Saturday, 38-year-old New York City Vindalee Smith was on the brink of new happiness — she was due to give birth to her fifth child in a few weeks; the next day she was to be married. Instead, she was found brutally murdered in her apartment, and a note from the murderer sent shockwaves across the nation.
Smith was found lying in a pool of blood having suffered fatal knife wounds to her neck. Underneath her bloody body, police found an envelope containing a printed page reading: “I will kill 1 pregnant woman a month starting now until Lee Boyd Malvo is set free!” The letter was signed by “the apprentice” and punctuated with a smiley-face.
Lee Boyd Malvo was the young accomplice in the famed DC Sniper case that paralyzed the nation’s capitol for three weeks in October 2002. Ten people were killed and three more injured during the spree. When the DC Snipers were caught and tried, Malvo told jurors that had they not been caught, they would have entered a second phase of their plan featuring the targeting of a pregnant woman.
The death of Vindalee Smith and her fetus reawakened memories of the terror. Police have not ruled anyone out as a suspect — including Smith’s fiance Anthony Jackman, who was arrested on an unrelated false registration for a vehicle charge shortly after the murder. The Daily News reported that Jackman has been arrested 14 times before Smith’s murder. Police also said that Jackman had not been officially divorced from a previous wife, so his marriage to Smith would have been invalid.
Forensic tests are currently being performed on blood and fingerprints found at the scene. Investigators believe the Malvo note may have been a red herring meant to set police on a wild goose chase.
John Allen Mohammad, the mastermind behind the sniper attacks, was put to death in 2009. The 27-year-old Malvo, now serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole in Virginia, recently opened up in a Washington Post interview. “I was a monster,” Malvo told the paper. “If you look up the definition, that’s what a monster is. I was a ghoul. I was a thief. I stole people’s lives. I did someone else’s bidding just because they said so. . . . There is no rhyme or reason or sense.”
With age, Malvo has come to feel remorse for his crimes. Later in the interview, he implored his victims’ families to forget him. That task was made just a little harder this week.